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Low energy ELEctron driven chemistry for the advantage of emerging NAno-fabrication methods

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - ELENA (Low energy ELEctron driven chemistry for the advantage of emerging NAno-fabrication methods)

Reporting period: 2016-10-01 to 2018-09-30

Nanotechnology, has been described as the technology for the 21st century, with applications from electronics to biotechnology and medicine. Accordingly, the next decade will be characterized by an increasing industrial demand for the creation of novel nanostructures whose individual physical and chemical properties can be tuned to specific applications. This in turn requires increased control over material composition, shape and resolution, providing the mechanisms for advanced nano-meter scale fabrication methods. Focused Electron Beam Induced Deposition (FEBID) and Extreme Ultra Violet Lithography (EUVL) are two innovative, next generation, nanoscopic fabrication techniques. These approaches have in common that high energy irradiation is used to write the nanostructures desired. Such irradiation, in turn, leads to the production of secondary, low energy electrons that are determining in the chemistry defining the performance of these methods.

The ELENA project aims at a better understanding of this low energy electron induced chemistry governing the performance of these methodologies and to use that understanding to advance these as commercially viable nanostructure fabrication techniques. Further, in order to significantly contribute to the development of FEBID and EUVL and nanotechnology in general, ELENA trains 15 early stage researcher in a broad set of skills and providing them with a detailed understanding of the physics and chemistry underpinning both FEBID and EUVL as well as the broader aspects of nano-technology processing.
The 15 ESRs active within ELENA have established a set of unique state of the art research projects whilst simultaneously receiving comprehensive training, both academic and technical. Two Technical Training School have also been arranged, with strong emphasis on direct contact with industrial stake holders and one Personal Skill Training School, where the emphasis was on training in outreach, dissemination and communication.

Significant data has already been produced and importantly, collaborations across the network are very active. Such collaborations are an important element of the training and are probably the single most important element in achieving the technical and scientific objectives of this ITN.

Studies on model compound for EUVL resist materials have been conducted and new approaches for such studies have been developed. Protocols for the synthesis of novel EUVL resist materials have been established and approaches to study chemically assisted electron-induced processes, with both EUVL resist materials and FEBID precursors, have been established. A library of metal complexes as potential FEBID precursors has been synthesized and these compounds are being systematically tested, also with novel approaches developed within the ELENA ITN. In addition, new FEBID precursors with potential applications in EUVL mask repair have been tested. The first efforts to calculate energy landscapes and determine relative rates for the growth of nanostructures have begun and current theoretical work is focused on defining a general methodology to obtain converged results for large systems. Studies on cross linking of self-assembled monolayers (SAMs) and on surface-anchored metal-organic frameworks (SURMOFs), as potential platforms for surface patterning with electron beams or EUV light, have also been conducted.

Elena places a strong emphasis on application of its research and the first steps have been taken towards integration of a 3D lithography package into commercial SEMs, and currently work is being devoted to the development of protocols for the provision of precursors providing the desired material properties needed in the repair of EUVL photo masks.
Elena is designed to make significant advances in both the technical and scientific understanding of FEBID and EUVL, advances that are possible through the exploitation of the synergy provided by this collaborative MCSA, ITN platform.

Studies on model compounds for resist materials for EUVL, based on conventional UV resist material and on novel materials tailored for EUVL have been conducted and a stable approach to synthesize novel, air- and moisture sensitive EUVL resist material have been established. Platforms have also been established for testing these materials under EUV exposure, including in situ analyses of EUV induced chemistry through ultrafast spectroscopy techniques. A library of metal complexes with potential for commercial use in FEBID has been prepared and many of these complexes have been synthesized and are being tested for their basic physical and chemical properties as well as their applicability. In this context, novel analytical approaches have also been developed to establish the critical physical parameters necessary to optimize performance of precursor molecules in FEBID. In addition new FEBID precursors with potential applications in EUVL mask repair are being tested.

ELENA is also active in establishing common metrological criteria to evaluate FEBID precursors and process parameters. This is very important in the multi- dimensional space of FEBID, to be able to compare results for different precursors and different deposition conditions. Also new concepts for patterning with electron beams as well as EUV irradiation are being explored through cross linking of self-assembled monolayers (SAMs) and by using surface-anchored metal-organic frameworks (SURMOFs) and the first steps have been taken towards the integration of a 3D lithography package into commercial SEMs and precursors providing the desired material properties needed in the repair of EUVL photo masks are being explored..

ELENA will therefore deliver new materials, novel methodology and new research approaches to further develop EUVL and FEBID as viable commercial processes for nanotechnology processing in general. No less important is the training of the 15 ESRs, which at the end of the project are expected to enter the nanotechnology industry and research communities. These ESRs will be provided with a broad and well-funded knowledge base and strong technical skill sets, as well as having had personal development training encouraging innovation and entrepreneurship.

Through the development of new materials and approaches allowing the further commercial development of these new nanotechnology fabrication methods we expect ELENA to have a significant direct socio-economic impact. We also expect significant progress to be made by the broad technical and personal training of the 15 participating ESRs. Though a single ITN can only directly train a limited number of ESRs its reach and impact can be greatly enhanced as a model example to the wider community demonstrating the value of collaborative research and broad training in technical and transferable skills.